GARDEN GROVE, Calif. -- A former NBA player has issued an apology after his daughter was seen at a youth basketball game in Southern California's Orange County throwing a vicious sucker punch that left another girl with a concussion.
Corey Benjamin apologized to the victim and said he was "shocked and disappointed at my daughter's behavior."
Benjamin, a SoCal native, played on the Chicago Bulls from 1998 to 2001 and had a short stint with the Atlanta Hawks. He also played on international teams in Europe and Asia.
"This is not how I raised my daughter," a statement from Benjamin said.
"To the young lady who was punched by my daughter during a youth basketball game, I sincerely apologize to you and I am praying for your complete healing both physically and emotionally. To her family, I deeply apologize and regret that this happened to your daughter as she did not deserve this to happen to her. Finally, I apologize to all of those who have been impacted and hurt by the actions of my daughter as well as those of her mother. I am here for your family and wish only the best for you. As a father, I'm shocked and disappointed at my daughter's behavior as this is not a reflection of the values and standards that my family holds. Nor does it exemplify the values, character and spirit of sportsmanship that the game of basketball requires. My daughter made a mistake. One that she will need to make right. I am committed to getting my daughter any help she may need and support her in taking accountability for her conduct."
But even as he issued the apology, video has emerged of an earlier, similar incident involving his daughter. The video shows her at another game throwing a wild punch at the player who is guarding her on the court and then chasing after another player who tries to pull her away as chaos breaks out. That incident happened Sept. 12, 2021 at a tournament in Carson.
During the recent incident, which happened over the weekend at a girls basketball tournament in Garden Grove, Benjamin's daughter is seen throwing a wild roundhouse punch that caught 15-year-old Lauryn Ham by surprise, hitting her on the chin and throat. Ham suffered a concussion and was unable to attend school or focus on anything after the incident, her mother said.
Her mother, Alice Ham, said she has filed a police complaint over the incident, including allegations that the girl's mother encouraged her to hit Lauryn.
"I want the daughter and the mom held accountable," Alice Ham told Eyewitness News. "Because this type of behavior is reprehensible and cannot happen in youth sports."
Kevin Hahn, an attorney for the Ham family said the apology from Corey Benjamin is "a start."
But he said there were deeper issues that were concerning, starting with the mother provoking her daughter. Also the family is questioning why the girl was allowed to continue playing after the earlier incident of violence. They have also heard anecdotally about additional instances, he said.
"The question is why has this been allowed to continue?" Hahn said. "Why hasn't it been put to a stop?"
"Perhaps what's more disturbing is the mother instructing the daughter to go and hit another child," he said. "That's beyond outrageous behavior."
AVAC United, the organization that sponsored the Garden Grove tournament, said the girl and her mother have been banned from future events.
The organization's CEO, Gary Thomas, issued a statement:
"There was recently an unfortunate incident where a player was punched by another player at our Tournament. We are very saddened about this and apologize to the family, fans, and all that have been impacted. We take these matters seriously and have taken action to ban this player and her mother from participating in, and or attending any future tournaments hosted by our organization. This type of behavior is never condoned by us and does not represent who we are or what we strive to teach our children. Again, we are very sorry about this incident."